June 4, 2014
by Ron Scott & Reggie Corley
Scott Law Firm, P.A. – USFN Member (South Carolina)
Recently, several Equity Court judges (Horry, York, and Lexington counties) have ruled against mortgage lenders/servicers and their property preservation agents that secure properties pre- and post-sale without a recorded foreclosure deed and/or an eviction or other court order. In South Carolina, real property ownership is determined by recording the deed in the register of deeds office in the county where the real property is located. Until a foreclosure deed is executed and recorded, the homeowners/mortgages still own the real property.
In at least one case, an Equity Court judge awarded significant damages ($28,000) against the successful foreclosure sale purchaser where the foreclosure sale purchaser removed “abandoned property” from what appeared to be a vacant home. Even though it looked like the mortgagors/homeowners had vacated the home, the garage was full of the mortgagors/homeowners’ personal belongings.
Therefore, if you observe the homeowner/mortgagor vandalizing the property or believe that the property has been abandoned and is now vacant, do not take any action to secure the property unless you are the record title owner of the real property. If the Equity Court judge or selling officer has not executed and recorded the foreclosure deed, a separate legal action may be required in order for the Equity Judge to grant you (as a non-record title owner) the right to enter the property and to take all necessary actions to protect, preserve, and secure the home.
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